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Quantum Particle Work Wins Nobel For French, US Scientists 38

Posted by timothy
from the watch-them-blow-it-all-on-fancy-shoes dept.
thomst writes "Reuters is reporting that French scientist Serge Haroche and American David Wineland will share the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on measuring quantum particles. (The article is very skimpy on details.)" The Associated Press article carried by the Washington Post is also quite thin, but along with the Reuters story says the Haroche and Wineland were selected for demonstrating "how to observe individual quantum particles without destroying them."
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Quantum Particle Work Wins Nobel For French, US Scientists

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  • Go to the Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:02AM (#41595271)

    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2012/advanced-physicsprize2012.pdf

  • by fishicist (777318) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:05AM (#41595301)

    Physics World has a slightly more in-depth article [physicsworld.com].

  • Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by korpenkraxar (1731280) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:15AM (#41595399)
    How about going straight to the source instead? http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2012/press.html [nobelprize.org]
  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @09:27AM (#41595549)

    Some details on Serge Haroche's experiment:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_decoherence#Quantitative_measurement [wikipedia.org]

    Really short summary is squirting individual atoms in a superposition state thru a microwave waveguide puts the field in the waveguide into a superposition. Not surprisingly figuring out the field inside a waveguide is something we're pretty good at after a couple decades of radar work etc. Now if you take two entangled atoms and squirt them thru the detector at different times, you can do/measure all sorts of interesting quantum effects by screwing around with the field in the waveguide.

    I guess a /.ification of it, is if you're familiar with the concept of knowing if an ancient computer has a 1 or 0 because a lightbulb is on or off, this is the technological element a quantum computer would use to sorta display the 1 or 0 of a result, sorta.

    There's a funny ancient computing analogy where you can't read a core memory, you can only write it and see if the energy required to write is consistent with it having been a 1 or 0 before it was overwritten. The analogy is you squirt an atom thru this guys lab experiment, what comes out isn't what came in, but you can work backwards to figure out what it must have been at the start, sorta.

    Its a handy basic tool/technique for quantum "stuff". Kind of like being the inventor of the "test tube" or NMR or FT-IR or whatever.

  • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:02AM (#41595945)
    We have a really good theoretical model for quantum mechanics... called quantum mechanics. It has predictive results that agree with measurements really well. The only downside is the difficulty of some of the calculations mean more complex situations can take considerable time to apply the theory to. Also, some people might be upset that there is more than one interpretation, although to some degree that is more of a pedagogical issue. If you stick to the math, you get solid, quantitative results.
  • Re:Strange... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @10:14AM (#41596067)

    "It's at least strange that Nobel prices are rewarded such soon after those 'discoveries'"
        Um, the work stretches back a couple of decades; a lot of it is based on Freedman's seminal work on Quantum Entanglement in the seventies. Freedman was on the short list this year, but he's moved on to Neutrinos.
        It is nice, for me, to see good experimental Physics rewarded, rather than yet one more theory that just Strings us along.

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